Category Archives: Featured Stories

Oswego County Opportunities received grant for housing for domestic violence victims

By Ashley M. Casey

As part of the Violence Against Women Act, the U.S. Department of Justice – Office of Violence Against Women has awarded a $300,000 grant to Oswego County Opportunities.

The grant will be used to provide transitional housing for victims of domestic violence.

The grant allots OCO’s Crisis and Development Services $100,000 a year for three years.

Eric Bresee, director of Crisis and Development Services, said OCO and the Department of Social Services applied for the competitive grant back in April.

OCO’s Services to Aid Families shelter provides a safe, temporary place for victims of domestic violence to stay before they can secure more permanent housing.

“One challenge for many women residing in the shelter is finding adequate, affordable housing to exit to,” Bresee said.  “Many times, survivors of domestic violence need to start over building resources as they pursue a life free from violence. Often, they do not have the financial resources to immediately secure housing on their own.”

In addition to housing help, the grant will provide domestic violence survivors with social and professional resources.

“This project will offer survivors a  case manager who can provide advocacy, transportation, supportive counseling and assistance with applying for Office of Victim Services compensation, as well as security deposits and rental subsidies to support housing,” Bresee said.

“The project will also offer job skills training and assistance with obtaining employment, including assisting participants in obtaining the National Work Readiness Credential,” Bresee said.

Rep. Dan Maffei, D-Syracuse, co-sponsored the Violence Against Women Act bill and voted for it in February 2013.

“Oswego County Opportunities serves as a lifeline to victims of domestic violence, and I am thrilled that this funding will support their work to provide essential housing services to some of the most vulnerable in our communities,” Maffei said in a press release.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of domestic violence, OCO has a 24-hour abuse and assault crisis hotline, 342-1600.

For more information, visit

Phoenix fire department wants Schroeppel town supervisor to resign

By Debra J. Groom

The fire department in Phoenix wants Schroeppel Town Supervisor Patrick Nugent to resign due to a comment fire officials claim he made to them at a fireworks display this summer, a lawyer said.

Jarrod Smith, lawyer for the Enterprise Fire Co., said the company is planning to sue the Town of Schroeppel and Nugent for what it calls a violation of political rights and interfering with the contract between the town and the fire department.

Smith said the fire chief and president of the fire company say Nugent threatened to punish the fire department during town budget negotiations this fall because the two men refused to sign Nugent’s nominating petitions for this year’s town election.

Nugent would not comment on the action. Town Attorney Allison Nelson said the town does not comment on ongoing litigation.

According to the notice of claim filed Sept. 9: “while (Nugent) was soliciting signatures, he came into contact with fire chief John N. Delahunt and president Peter F. Marsenison. … The chief and president declined to sign his petitions due to the fact that (the fire department’s) policy is not to endorse political candidates.”

“He (Nugent) knows they don’t sign anyone’s petition,” Smith said.

Smith said the Enterprise Fire Co. is an independent company, not affiliated with the town or Village of Phoenix. He said it is a long-standing policy for members not to favor any political party in elections.

The notice of claim then states: After the chief and president declined (to sign the petitions), supervisor then stated to them ‘I will remember that come contract time.’” The claim goes on to say this statement “was threatening and not in the interest of the public good.”

Each year, the fire department submits to the town a contract for the amount of money it wants to receive in exchange for providing fire protection to the people and property in the Town of Schroeppel. In 2013, the town paid $231,963 for fire protection for the town’s nearly 6,000 residents.

The fire department has requested $243,561 for 2014, an increase of 5 percent. Marsenison said the fire department has not received an increase from Schroeppel in about three years and the costs of materials such as safety equipment keep going up.

He also said the increase amounts to $1.93 more for the year for each resident in the town, less than a cup of coffee in many places..

Smith said he believes Nugent violated General Municipal Law by threatening to affect budget negotiations due to Delahunt and Marsenison not signing his petitions.

Smith also said Nugent’s action violates state Penal Law because he tried to deprive another person of a benefit through the use of his public office. Because of this, Smith said he also has given a copy of the notice of claim to Oswego County District Attorney Gregory Oakes to see whether Nugent can be charged with official misconduct.

Oakes confirmed he is looking at the paperwork.

Smith said he sent a letter to Nugent and the town before filing the claim to try to work out a settlement. “We are asking that he resign,” Smith said.

Nugent lost his Republican primary Sept. 10 and now will be on only the Independence Party line in the November 5 election. When asked if Nugent losing his supervisor seat would be enough to satisfy the fire company, Smith said no, because Nugent still would be supervisor until Jan. 1 and would be in on the budget negotiations for a fire contract.

Smith, who grew up in Fulton, said municipal law mandated the fire department file the notice of claim before filing an actual lawsuit. But he said the lawsuit will state the same claims as the notice. “This basically is the lawsuit,” he said.

Students complete medical assistant program at Oswego County BOCES


The Adult Education Department at Oswego County BOCES honored the following students for completing the 690-hour medical assistant program: Tonya Burrows, Corina Canfield, Brandi LeBeau, Sarah Liers, and Courtney Niver. The five students were recognized, during a special ceremony in their honor, for their academic achievements in the classroom as well as clinical internships in local medical practices that prepare them for future careers in the healthcare industry. Pictured above, left to right, are: Courtney Niver; Shelly Spencer, Medical Assistant Instructor; Brandi LeBeau; Tonya Burrows; Corina Canfield; Paul Gugel, Director of Adult Education; Sarah Liers; and John Shelmidine, OCB Board of Education President. For more information about the Medical Assistant program or other health, trades or technology course offerings at Oswego County BOCES, contact the Adult Education Department at 963-4256 or visit

Oswego man wins first place in Erie Canalway photo contest


Twelve images that capture the beauty and character of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor have been selected as winners of the 2013 Erie Canalway Photo Contest.

The winning images will be featured in the 2014Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor Calendar and can be viewed online at

Winning images include two scenes from Oswego, including “Oswego Paddlefest” by Richard Drosse, which won first place in the category For the Fun of It. His photo is seen above.

“Before the Storm” by Alla Sokolovskaya, received an honorable mention.

“These outstanding images capture the extraordinary heritage of the canal corridor and remind us what makes it worth preserving and celebrating,” said Beth Sciumeca, Executive Director of the Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor.

Judges selected 12 winners from more than 300 entries. First-, second- and third-place photographs were chosen in each of four contest categories: Bridges, Buildings, and Locks; On the Water; For the Fun of It; and The Nature of the Canal.

In addition, 12 photographs received an honorable mention recognition.

Faith United Church in Oswego unveils murals

By Ashley M. Casey

Instead of the usual processional out into the lobby for coffee, members of the flock of Faith United Church in Oswego filed into the children’s Sunday school wing to celebrate eight murals painted by a churchgoer.

The Rev. Roger Martin led a prayer to bless the rich paintings that depicted various scenes in the life of Jesus.

“We ask your blessing, O Lord, on these images of stories we have known for years and yet now perceive in new ways,” the congregation read. “May they stir our minds, both young and old, to see your Words in a new light.”

Barb Sheldon of Oswego, who has taught art at Mexico High School for 28 years, painted the murals over a period of about eight years. Students in Faith United’s Sunday school assisted in painting the doors and lettering the titles and Bible verses. Her husband, Craig, worked on the borders of the murals.

“One Sunday, people were talking about gifts they could give to the church,” Sheldon recalled of the project’s origins. She said that the original concept was to guide Sunday school students in creating the murals so they could better understand Bible stories, but it evolved into something more for her.

Sheldon said that she and her husband, Craig, adopted two daughters from China: Hannah, now 14, and Libby, now 10. After the passing of her own parents, Sheldon reflected on the legacy she wanted to leave her own daughters.

“I just thought about (my mother) and what she’d taught me. Even though she wasn’t around, she was there,” Sheldon said. “I wanted to leave it to Hannah and Libby.”

The other children of the congregation were on Sheldon’s mind too. Ever the perfectionist, she had to set aside her ideas about continually tweaking the murals.

“When I look at these walls, I see it’s for the kids. I see things I want to change, but I let it go,” she said. “It is for God and it’s not about me.”

Sheldon sought the advice of pastor Martin and other church members on which verses to depict.

“The first one she did was the manger scene, which is traditional,” Martin said. He said his favorite was “Stilling the Storm,” the smallest of the murals.

“It’s on its own little side of the door by itself. It’s a wonderful place to get kids to focus in on,” he said.

Martin called the process of watching Sheldon’s work interesting.

“Oftentimes, Barb will be in worship and all of a sudden she’ll just sneak out (to paint),” he said. “It’s wonderful to behold.”

Both Martin and Sheldon recounted the story that Pat Sivers, a petite churchgoer, requested the story of Jesus visiting Zaccheus, a similarly diminutive person. Sheldon included a small goldfinch in her painting to represent Sivers.

Sheldon said her favorite mural is the one that depicts Jesus’ baptism.

“It’s all from here,” she said, tapping her head. She said the other murals were inspired in part by depictions from other artists. “I didn’t take bits from things I’d seen. I like how he’s reflected in the water.”

She included a basket of fish and a basket of bread in this painting as an allusion to Jesus’ other stories. “I put those things there so they could share with the kids and teach them how Jesus provides,” she said.

As for future murals, Sheldon is taking a break. She and the children are currently working on a depiction of Noah’s ark for one of the classrooms, but she has slowed work on that because she wanted to take a different direction with it.

“At this point, she really needs to have an opportunity to stop for a bit, take a step back and have a look-see,” Martin said. He expressed a desire for more murals in the future, however. “Our Sunday school is beginning to grow. I’m hoping that someone will say, ‘Barb, we need a picture of this to reinforce this idea.’”

As for Sheldon, she said she is grateful that her faith has helped her throughout the hardships in her life. She hopes her paintings inspires the same in those who see them.

“They’re not the Sistine Chapel, but hopefully somebody can learn from them.”

Faith United Church is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America and the United Church of Christ. It is located at 12 Mark Fitzgibbons Drive in Oswego. For more information, visit

List of murals:

Manger – Matthew 8:23-27

Jesus in the Temple – Luke 2:41-50

Baptism – Luke 3:21-22

Stilling the Storm – Matthew 8:23-27

Good Shepherd – Luke 15:3-7

We Are Blessed, a silhouette of Jesus

Zaccheus and Jesus – Luke 19:1-10

The Names of God

ARISE ramp builders busy this summer

With the help of volunteers, the ARISE Oswego County Ramp Program reached a new milestone this summer.

During one weekend, volunteers built three ramps for three different families living in three different parts of the county – and they were able to do it twice.

If additional volunteers lend a hand, there’s still time left to help more families before winter hits.

So far this year, the Oswego County Ramp Program has helped many local Oswego County families reclaim access to their homes.

Earlier this month, ARISE built a ramp for a couple who has not been able to leave their home for over two years. With the ramp in place, they’ll be able to resume everyday activities like going to the grocery store or just enjoying the crisp fall air from their front yard.

With more than 60 families on the waiting list, ARISE will continue to build ramps for as long as the weather permits. However, in order to help as many families as possible before the end of the year, more volunteers are needed.

Construction experience is a plus but not necessary. If you’d like to volunteer or make a donation to help ARISE purchase more construction materials, email Kris Rabideau, ARISE Housing Advocate/Ramp Coordinator, at or

Volney public hearing on overriding state tax cap Oct. 10

By Scott Allardice

It looks like the town of Volney may be raising taxes in 2014 in excess of the state-mandated cap on property tax increases.

But it only looks that way, said Supervisor Dennis Lockwood.

Revenues from a new water district in the town are expected to boost Volney’s income over the tax cap number; which is 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapolli recently set the tax cap at 1.66 percent for the 2014 budget year.

The new water district includes County Route 45, McDougall Road and part of County Route 6.

“The rest of it might be less than 2 percent,” Lockwood said, referring to the rest of the town’s 2014 spending plan.

Town officials are in the midst of the 2014 budget process this month and next, and must adopt a final 2014 spending plan by Nov. 20.

But with the anticipated “excess’ spending, the town is required to adopt a resolution to override the state spending cap.

There will be a public hearing on the tax cap override resolution at 5 p.m., Oct 10 at the town hall.

New ramp built at Parents of Special Children

Parents of Special Children, Inc. recently had a wheelchair ramp built at its new office in Fulton.

The nonprofit agency,  funded through the Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and Family Support Services), moved to a larger suite in June to accommodate its growing programs.

Parents of Special Children support families who are caring for individuals with developmental disabilities by assisting with reimbursements of goods and services that allow them to better care for their individuals.

Construction for their ramp took place Sept. 14 with the help of many volunteers and donors.  The project was coordinated by Dick Bonanno of Operation Northern Comfort and Theresa Familo of PSC.

The staff, board of directors and families of Parents of Special Children would like to thank everyone who helped make this project a success, including Operation Northern Comfort, Hannibal American Legion, Hannibal’s Poorman’s Snowmobile Club, ARISE, ARC of Oswego County and the many family and friends who volunteered.

“This project was a huge success because of the volunteers. Working with so many amazing individuals allowed me to better understand the dynamics of people,” said Parents of Special Children Executive Director Theresa Familo.

“Believing that the more you give of yourself, the more your community is going to flourish,” she said. “It is also incredible to see things from a different perspective.  Seeing how everything is put together, from beginning to end, is extremely interesting to me.”

Parents of Special Children, Inc. will  hold an open house from 4 to 7 p.m. Oct. 16 for friends and families to visit its new office and use the new ramp.

For more information, call Familo at (315) 598-7672.